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A stunning tribute to the B-17 bomber crews who served from Eye

PUBLISHED: 09:27 11 November 2015 | UPDATED: 10:13 11 November 2015

An aerial shot of the B-17 Bomber drawn into a field in Eye.

An aerial shot of the B-17 Bomber drawn into a field in Eye.

Archant

As land art goes, this was pretty ambitious - taking days to complete and spanning 350 metres.

Combat and ground crew of the 490th Bomb Group with their B-17 Flying Fortress, nicknamed Combat and ground crew of the 490th Bomb Group with their B-17 Flying Fortress, nicknamed "Old Doc Stork," pose for a photograph during World War II. After the group's conversion to B-17s, the crew switched focus and flew longer distance missions over Germany to bomb industrial sites. After Victory in Europe Day, the group dropped food supplies to flooded parts of Holland and transported French, Belgian and Spanish prisoners of war out of Austria.

The stunning sight of a B-17 bomber was etched into an Eye field in commemoration of the crews who served from the town’s airfield during the Second World War.

Called the Flying Fortress the artwork was completed by Eye residents Carlo Roberts and Stefan Fulcher in the year that marks the 70th anniversary of the end of Second World War.

The B-17 bomber planes were flown from Eye airfield by the US air crews of the 490th Bombardment Group from August 1944 until February 1945.

The field is located a mere 600 metres from the airfield and directly under the flight path the planes would have taken.

Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress

The B-17 is a four-engine heavy bomber aircraft developed for the United States Army Air Corps (USAAF). Its first flight was on July, 28 1935 before it was introduced in April 1938. It was primarily employed by the USAAF in the daylight bombing campaign of the Second World War against German industrial and military targets.

One airworthy B-17 remains in the UK - Sally B - based at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford.

Mr Roberts, a geography teacher at Diss High School, said: “It’s a slightly forgotten piece of history although the airfield still remains in some part.

“I have a passion for art, particularly community art. I got the idea to do some land art in 2012.”

The pair’s first foray into the art form saw a set of Olympic rings drawn into the earth in 2012, followed by a remembrance poppy in 2014.

This most recent etching was given the green light by landowner Tom Baldwin.

Mr Roberts, 48, used satellite maps to plot the outline of the design before heading out into the field.

After marking out the trailing edge of the wing, he scaled up his original drawing using a surveyors instrument to measure the angles, setting out 37 reference points.

The outline was then ready for Mr Fulcher to plough in using a set of discs ordinarily used to break up and cultivate top soil.

Mr Roberts said: “The hardest thing was working out how to do an oblique view on a flat surface. You can recognise the B-17 because of its unusual tail fin.

“Stefan is the skill behind it, he’s got a very good eye.”

Marking out took two days, discing took six hours and the pair’s handiwork was initially checked with the help of a drone.

Mr Roberts said: “It wouldn’t have happened without Stefan and Tom.

“Tom was happy for us to go ahead. He is pleased and thinks it’s very interesting.

“The thing we are always up against is fitting it in with the agricultural calendar and when the tractors are free.”

The art, which was in place for six weeks, has now been planted with wheat.

Are you planning a commemorative project? Email kate.royall@archant.co.uk


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